Shooting an Elephant: How to Change One-Party Bifurcation into a Two-Party System

One political debacle after another is signaling to responsible Americans that we no longer have a two-party system.  The time for change is now.

Rachel Alexander’s post at the beginning of this week (“Edward Snowden: Traitor or Hero?” on Townhall.com, 6/24/13) might serve as one of innumerably many examples of a political position appealing to ordinary, sensible people on both sides of the aisle.  While professional politicians and pundits cry for Edward Snowden’s head as a spy and a traitor, most of us Middle Americans are outraged in a very different way.  Eric Holder arranged for the sale of arms to Mexican drug cartels, and he hasn’t been so much as formally reprimanded.  The Gang of Eight—which shockingly includes the last best Republican hope, Marco Rubio—wishes to accelerate the bankruptcy of our economy and plunge us irrevocably into “democratic feudalism”, yet we are to accept these architects of national doom as compassionate patriots.  Most of us would say that, if Snowden goes to jail, then his accusers should precede him there and be rotting away for another twenty years after his release; or as Diogenes put it, Hoi megaloi kleptai ton mikron apagousi—“The big thieves are arresting the little one.”

As I say, there must be dozens of such points where ordinary decency has a magnetic pull upon people who hoist warring candidate signs in their front yards during election time.  Most of us don’t like being spied on—and any “spy” who reveals universal, systematic spying by a government on its citizenry is a hero to us.  Upon reflection, we don’t really buy the “but government only wants to keep us safe” argument.  The chances that highly dangerous terrorists have already slipped across our southern border in large numbers are immensely greater than the chances that vital intel will be lost if NSA doesn’t monitor our email.  Our security officers were warned by Russian intelligence about the Tsarnaevs and did absolutely nothing preemptive.  Why should we suppose them competent enough to weed out one critical email from tens of millions in a timely manner—and why should we accept on faith that such is their primary objective after years now of the IRS and ATF targeting law-abiding citizens for their political beliefs?

Beneath this issue sprawls a much more general one that also pits the mainstream against Washington insiders: foreign policy.  We men and women in the streets (where drones may easily track us if we don’t watch out) would rather use our national resources guarding our borders and monitoring immigration carefully than waging wars halfway around the world as immediate ports of entry are left wide open.  We’re not interested in a neo-conservative American Empire, nor in left-wing utopian crusades against tyranny that invite increasingly tyrannical rule in our own country.  We want to leave other people alone and be left alone.

The necessity of importing oil once made this a rather whimsical ambition.  No more.  We would like our government to lead us in developing new and viable domestic energy sources rather than standing in the way of such initiatives and prolonging foreign dependencies that put our children’s lives at risk.  We are not, most of us, indifferent to the environmental costs of energy production.  The few of us who haven’t been brainwashed by legally required years of propaganda called education and by the idiot celebrity-wannabes of the Fourth Estate understand, however, that solar and wind energy are boondoggles.  The former is slaughtering thousands in Third World mining towns, while the latter has created a kind of Auschwitz franchise for exterminating rare bird species.  A very few of us know that trains can move a given tonnage at about one-fifteenth the fuel consumption of big rigs on the highway.  Lobbying destroyed our railways after World War II, and unions and lobbies continue to stifle common-sense energy solutions.  Our society’s elaborate waste of energy is so deeply embedded in soiled traditions of political patronage and mega-unionization that the latest “miracle rays” are almost always mere political pay-offs.  (Remember the ethanol/agribusiness connection?)

 The specifics of this waste, if little known, could readily and easily be broadcast to the rank and file if the political machine—both the Democrat and Republican cogs within it—did not constantly work at suppression.  The zealotry of the Green Movement (which is little short of outright fanaticism) could be harnessed to break such stories.  The trick is simply to persuade Greens that they are being manipulated by the corporatist monster, and that the future of effective environmentalism must lie with free-market creativity.  This would not be a tough sell, if it were only attempted—for the proposition is transparently true.  Competition for the cleanest fuel at the lowest cost would draw the brightest minds into the skirmish: competition for the fattest, most exclusive government subsidies only attracts the most devious scoundrels.

How many voters of all political stripes would support reasonable term limits for federal office-holders?  Probably everyone who has grown sick of pork-barrel politics: a hefty majority.

 How many would get behind a fair tax or (my own preference) a sales tax replacing income taxes at all levels?  Considering that about half of us pay no income tax at all, these numbers might not be overwhelming; yet I suspect that the issue, again, merely needs a good-faith presentation to the public.  Nobody likes to think of himself as a parasite.  Resistance to paying taxes among low-wage earners would be far less if blue-collar grunts were confident that the fabulously wealthy inhabitants of Knob Hill were not exploiting various loopholes in the system.  Make the net a wall. 

This single change, as I have argued elsewhere, would dramatically affect our illegal immigration problem, as well.  Most undocumented workers come here for the jobs, true enough: but under the “job” umbrella must be included a bulging bag of goodies that contains free education, free ER attention, free police protection, and so on.  Fewer non-Americans would come for American jobs if they also had to pay American taxes.

 I do not wish to minimize the differences between Left and Right by emphasizing the likely common ground on these issues.  Religion is the crack that rives our social trunk right through its oaken heart.  Progressives worship their own vision of the future, their own Star Trek ascent to manmade perfection and immortality; we on the Right regard this kind of thing as childish fantasy at its best, and insane hubris at its worst.  Controversies like that surrounding abortion obviously cannot sidestep our fundamental disagreement; for the progressive thinks that transforming birth into something between puppy breeding and a genetics drive-thru will be indispensable to our species’ advance, while the believer in an ultimate reality not of man’s making does not claim to have all the criteria for a “useful” life.

Even on abortion, however, a truce is possible.  Most people can agree that killing a fetus beyond a certain stage of development is brutal murder.  High-tech contraception is also rapidly making the issue disappear (or would be doing so, if we didn’t keep admitting people into the country who can’t count to thirty—the low-tech method of my grandmother’s day).  As a last resort, where no truce emerges, we may appeal to federalism, the principle of “leave me alone and I’ll leave you alone” applied internally rather than to foreign powers.  If Californians, New Yorkers, and others want to abort their progeny, let them do so within their state lines.  If San Franciscans want to legislate that only gay marriages are legal in their municipality, that’s fine with me.  I don’t have to live there, and they don’t have to live here.

Resisting the federalist argument would amount to saying, “No, you have to play my game by my rules—and those who don’t play get shot” (the Abe Lincoln approach).  Again, I can’t imagine that many Americans, or many sane adult human beings, would find such bullying attractive.  (Lincoln’s was made so by a rewriting of history to put slavery at the center of his invasion of the South—this on behalf of a man whose speeches overtly and repeatedly declared that blacks were inferior to whites and must always be so.)

 Is a third party, then, feasible from the two major parties’ residue of discontents?  Let me frame the proposition in what I consider far more accurate terms.  We do not currently have a functional two-party system.  The Democratic Part consists of public-sector elitists and salt-of-the-earth fellow travelers who see only ruthless greed on the other side; the Republican Party consists of private-sector elitists and diehard constitutionalists who would rather be starved than beheaded.  Both parties are led by an elite that views its proper duties paternalistically and considers its special privileges as fully appropriate in light of its superior ability.

So, yes, I think the quest for a majority repelled by elitist, Big Brother snobbery is wholly realistic, insofar as its objective is not a “residue” but the nation’s sinew and backbone.  We should not view the new party—and most certainly should not christen it—as the Tea Party, nor even the Constitutional or Federalist Party.  We should decline trenchant, distinguishing adjectives which will at once be adduced to caricature by the children of Josef Goebbels in the media.  Perhaps we should simply call it the New Party, or the Second Party.  Or how about the American Party?

Does this really seem a step too far as we contemplate the GOP’s soliciting our vote in two years for the loutish, lubricious Chris Christie (see William Frasca on this site, “Governor Christie: Are There Skeletons?” 6/23/13), or the Bush brother who offers imperialism without the West Texas drawl, or—now nosing his way into the lead—a professional Latino whose ethnicity will force his nomination once he overhauls the electorate?

Wouldn’t a ticket of Allen West and Michele Bachmann instantly dwarf these squalid panderers into oblivion?

Decades ago, George Orwell penned a brilliant essay (now included in every Freshman Comp textbook known to man) about having to shoot an elephant in must to keep the peace during his days of serving the British Raj.  The only weapon available was of too small a caliber to bring the beast down cleanly.  Orwell therefore had to endure the gruesome trial of watching the creature very slowly lose brain function and finally topple over—still breathing—as he pumped all his shells into its great skull.  The Republican elephant, too, is dying and needs to die… but its demise is proceeding with a languidity torturous to all concerned.  The healthiest thing would be to finish it off fast, once and for all.

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2 comments to Shooting an Elephant: How to Change One-Party Bifurcation into a Two-Party System

  • sedonaman

    “How many voters of all political stripes would support reasonable term limits for federal office-holders?”

    I’ll go you one better: a constitutional amendment that bars anyone from high office who is/was related by blood or marriage to anyone, living or dead, who has held, or is holding, some high office, federal, state, or local.

  • Anonymous

    The Republican party died long ago; no one has to kill it. One of the two wings of the progressive party have been using the rotted carcass as a stalking horse to pick off the opposition to the progressive agenda. If you don’t believe it listen to Rove, any Bush, McCain, Graham, Ryan, Rubio, or any other of the GOP leadership.
    Don’t you wonder why they all advocate compromising and making deals that betray everything they claimed they were for when they ran?

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